Eight is Enough to Challenge the Patriarchy UPDATED!

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to thwart it. Crap, foiled again. The inimitable Twisty has the perfect take on the octuplets story that continues to make news. Apparently there’s a debate raging over whether Nadya Suleman should have had 8 fetuses implanted, especially considering she’s a low-down single mother with 6 other kids she never had to render her vagina to a man in order to conceive, and, probably the greatest sin of all, she lives with her freakin’ parents! And she’s poor! Oh, also, maybe the doctor was unethical for implanting 8 fetuses. Twisty begins:

All this shit about whether it is “ethical” for poor, single women to have litters of babies is a red herring. What’s really going on here is “Hey, let’s rip on this mentally ill woman because she has appropriated her personal uterus to flout social convention!”

But then she really tells the truth:

The conditions under which a woman may become pregnant and undergo childbirth are rigidly monitored by the megatheocorporatocracy; these conditions are entirely rooted in keeping a firm hand on the sex class. You must be married to a man, have money and religion, and submit to medical authority. Also, you may only spawn one or at the most two babies at a time, and you must stop spawning when you’ve reached your community’s ick-saturation point — any more than three or four, for example, begins to make you look weird. The slightest deviation is aberrant — for instance, if you’re a pregnant teen slut, or you want to bring an “abnormal” fetus to term, or you want an abortion, or you have a glass of wine while pregnant, or you want to eat your placenta with fava beans and a nice chianti, or you’re a single woman seeking in vitro, or you’re on the dole, or you’re queer, or you already have 6 kids, or you have no money, or you’re a single woman with 6 kids and no money having wine and octuplets — bada-boom! The cold claw of community censure claps you upside the head, and people write blog posts on whether you should be allowed to mingle in polite society.

Commenter yttik (also of Reclusive Leftist commenting fame) gets her blame on in comments and nails the whole damn thing, leading me to create this post in the first place:

This woman has challenged several patriarchal concepts, she’s unmarried, has no job, doesn’t even have a father for the babies, they were all made in a lab. Then she doesn’t even have the decency to be properly ashamed after the first six, oh no, she goes out and deliberately has eight more. Then to really offend everybody, she plans to profit off of them so as to support herself and all these children. She’s absolutely horrified every patriarchal sensibility we have. Where are the men in her story? She’s rendered them completely irrelevant. Not only that, she’s pushing the idea that child rearing should be a for profit enterprise. For the mother! Seriously, the patriarchy is just all in knots over this outrage.

Personally, I’m inclined to send Suleman a check as a thank you for pissing off all the right people.

UPDATE: Oh man, the freak show is really getting under way now. The doctor, still unnamed, is now under investigation, and check out this picture of a protester in front of the Suleman domicile. I’m calling it Irony Shrugged.

Whittier resident Ulyses Gutierrez holds a sign that reads "No More Babys" outside the home of the Suleman family in Whittier, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. Nadya Suleman, not seen, who already has six young children, was released earlier Thursday, from a hospital in in Bellflower, Calif. after giving birth to octuplets on Jan. 26. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Whittier resident Ulyses Gutierrez holds a sign that reads "No More Babys" outside the home of the Suleman family in Whittier, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009.

I wonder how many babies he has. Also, note the typo. Dumbass.

And oh my god, if this is the right guy, it really is Irony Shrugged! Somebody get down to the Suleman house right now and serve child support papers on this asshole! Also, it should be noted that Gutierrez (a fairly common Latino surname) shares that last name with Nadya Suleman’s ex-husband, Marcos Gutierrez, so it’s entirely possible he’s using the presence of the media to carry out a legal stalking campaign against a woman he holds a grudge against. Whatever is going on here in this photo, it ain’t right. May the wind carry the point of that umbrella right into your eye, Mr. Gutierrez.


14 comments on “Eight is Enough to Challenge the Patriarchy UPDATED!

  1. Anna Belle says:

    Oh, look at that. It’s my birthday. More evidence that my life is a case study in irony.

  2. unmarrieddaughter says:

    Add this to the social narrative on how to give birth:

    “It’s okay to have fertility treatments if all the following conditions apply:
    1. White, upper-class, highly educated woman married to a white highly educated, professional man
    2. Must be willing to downsize career, let your IRA account suffer to be home with the children*
    3. Had several attempts via penetration by male penis in vagina to make a baby, before seeking fertility help.
    4. Undergone several humilating physical and psychological testing, as well as endured talk therapy with psychotherapist to see if you as a woman had any mental resistance to be a mother
    5. Talked, with family and friends, of painfilled shame about your attempts at make the baby the normal way with friends, and how much of a failure you feel as a woman because you can’t make a baby. Also, bonus points if you had to do unending battle with insurance company to get funding for your babies
    6. Looked into adoption, especially female babies from China, but found the process to be too costly and/or process fell through at great expense to you
    7. Finally after years and money spent at various IVF clinics(in my experience these clinics are always run by men), bask in your family and friends accolades for all you endured, having emerged victorious with a pregnancy.

    yeah, Ms. Suleman doesn’t fit the social narrative of how to do IVF treatments very well either, which pisses off a lot more people.

    *let me state that I am not against IVF treatments, or women of any societal-economic class getting pregnant via that method, I am just saying that this is the narrative that came up in my social circle. Nor am I opposed to women staying home with children, and while I am of the “get to work” feminist variety, mostly for the IRA and retirement benefits, I am also not casting stones on any woman who does want to stay home with her children.

    I just felt like I should add those caveats in.

    Also, I am so pissed that people assume this woman is on welfare, and the only mention I could find on her economic status was this from the LA Times:

    “(Ms. Suleman) has no discernible income”

    so, in other words, she isn’t on welfare, everyone is just assuming she is.

  3. susannunes says:

    This is a tragedy waiting to happen. Sorry. This should be what is in the best interests of the children, not because of whatever a selfish nutjob wants.

    The “doctor” who implanted this woman knowing she had other children should lose his or her license to practice.

    I really wish people would quit trying to use the “choice” argument here. The kids had NO choice being brought into a freak show like this one.

  4. Anna Belle says:

    Susan, respectfully I submit that no child has a choice, and they’re all born to a freak show. Patriarchy, ya know, it’s a freak show.

    Personally, I wish everyone would allow everyone else the agency to form their own opinion about whatever, and leave them to make whatever choices they want to make with their own lives. Sadly, the nature of the freak show will not allow that to happen. I mean look at you, outraged by a woman you don’t know and whose choices have no effect on your life whatsoever.

  5. Anna Belle says:

    Excellent points, unmarrieddaughter. Thanks for helping flesh out the analysis.

  6. unmarrieddaughter says:


    One more thing to think about, in IVF treatment, the woman is always implanted with more embroyos than is necessary because of the high failure rate. The doctor wasn’t rubbing his hands together a la Snidely Whiplash cackling about making a woman pregnant with eight children. This is done because of the high failure rate that just one of the many will want to hang out in the woman’s uterus gestating for 38-40 weeks, let alone more than one. No, he implanted more embroyos hoping one or in the extreme case TWO, might take. That seven more than the expected liked Ms. Suleman’s uterus so to speak.

    so, no according to Ms. Suleman and her mother they got seven more babies than the one they were expecting from the treatment and did what just two years ago our Republican Congress insisted women do, have these “snowflake babies”

    Imagine if circus if it got out that Ms. Suleman decided to selectively abort six or seven of the embryos. Sweet goddesses above, Randall Terry and the Catholic League never would have left her doorstep.

    all of which says to me that there is no way any woman can win in this world. Or to modify Twisty’s line in regards to women:

    Everyone hates you.

  7. unmarrieddaughter says:

    also, Susun, and respectfully submitted for your thought process,

    You say these children are born to freak show.

    Okay, let’s just look at that for a moment. In all online and RL discussions about Mrs. Duggar, NOT ONE person, male or female said that Mrs. Duggar or Mr. Duggar should be sterlizied because her kids, and that, if you have visited their website is decidedly one definite freak show.

    The difference between Mrs. Duggar and Ms. Suleman?

    Mrs Duggar is white, very submissively christian and married to a white man who insists she stay home with her children.

    Ms. Suleman is not married, pieces together an income selling real estate(inferred from her bankruptcy of a bad property investment -LA Times article), lives with her parents and didn’t get pregnant in the god given natural way(penis in vagina)

    Where are your outraged calls that Mrs. Duggar’s children be taken away from her, that the OBs who didn’t insist that Mrs. Duggar get an abortion after her fourth child get sued and their licenses revoked?

    Just wondering if I will see more militant calls by youfor the Duggar children to be taken away from the Duggars and the OBs that deliver(ed) any more than four of the Duggar children be investigated and stripped of their licenses for not insisting on Mrs. Duggar terminating her pregnancies past the fourth one.

  8. Zee says:

    unmarried daughter….do you even know what you are talking about?

    Are you a fertility doctor?

    Because I have read what fertility doctors have written about this and no, it is not normal to plant 8 freaking embryos hoping that “one” will take. More than one, yes, but not 8 at a time.

    Susan Nunes is right. This woman said she wanted babies because she was “lonely.” She has six other kids and she’s “lonely” for more?

    As far as the Christian family, they may be a freak show to some and saints to others, but those 18 babies were born full term with normal birth weights…not in litters of one pound premies to the point of still being fetuses hooked up to breathing machines. That’s abuse. Abuse both of technology and of the poor babies themselves.

    This issue is a far cry from mothers who want large families or mothers who decide not to abort special needs babies.

    btw, annabelle…I love your posts and have saved some and look forward to more of your “unable to unsee” series. But this is not a good example of misogyny.

  9. unmarrieddaughter says:


    I do know what I am talking about, having undergone been part of a woman’s fertility plan as an egg donor, and as a childbirth professional whose clients have undergone several fertility treatments to have the baby. Plus, I, because everyone in my RL hears “ZOMG, woman of color decides to do something with her body that doesn’t fit into what we think she should have done with it, so I have to spout off my opinion without doing diligent research” and since I refuse to allow someone to shut down my arguments by flipping the “fat hairylegged angry lesbian feminist card” on me, I did do research on Ms. Suleman, the story, her quotes, her mother’s quotes, and so on before I would ever go around making statements as above. I did this so I could counter emotional opinions stated with cold logical facts. Funny how no one likes to hear the facts.

    All of my statements regarding Ms. Suleman are from recent articles of the LA Times, and CNN. Including the one where her mother said, “we didn’t expect all eight embryos to take, what should she have done? Killed them?”(Paraphrase mine) I will be watching The Today show interview later today. The only personal inference I made was on Ms. Suleman’s economic status, in which the LA Times stated in one article that she filed for bankruptcy due to a bad property investment, and has no discernible income at this time. I inferred from that, that quite possibly she is/was? a house flipper, which would free up her time to invest in her children.

    Personally, I think Mrs. Duggar is a brainwashed individual who now is cultist brainwashing her daughters into a dangerous warmongering misogynistic cult. What I would like to do is go in, take her daughters away, reeducate them, and get Mrs. Duggar some great radical feminist counseling. In other words, Mrs. Duggar is mentally ill and in my opinion unqualified to raise her children, especially the daughters. But, I won’t do that, because Mrs. Duggar has the same right, that Ms. Suleman has, to do what she wants with her uterus without me interfering. What I can do in both those cases is affirm both women’s choices, and to contribute as much as I can to help bring up the next generation. This may include my time, my money, my votes for the right candidates or proposals, or even opening my home should the state ever decide that either of the children involved in these situations need a foster home.

    One more thing, Zee, it’s a slippery slope you start on when you start throwing around the idea that mentally ill* poor women shouldn’t have babies if they want the children. It’s not that much further down to forced sterilizations and then finding ourselves looking at something like forcing poor women of color to be sterlized.
    Is that what you want to say? Because that is exactly what I am comprehending in your post. Do let me know if that is not what you are saying.

    I am really affronted that you are accusing me of not knowing what I am talking about, unlike you, I didn’t just go with “some fertility doctors say”. I have been in the medical field long enough to know that just like lawyers, you can find doctors who will tell you exactly what you want to hear when you want to hear it. Actual science and evidence based medicine is just not practiced in the medical world, and therefore it is quite possible for some fertility doctors to say what they know people want to hear, in this case, “oh, no, we don’t ever implant that many embroyos” to fit the patriarchial narrative.

    I would tell you where you can stick your “do you know what you are talking about?” but I just got done taking an anger management seminar, and since then, I don’t talk like that any more.

    *I also don’t believe that Ms. Suleman is mentally ill as it is defined now. In fact in the not too distant past she would have been lauded for wanting to have as many children as possible(see The Catholic Church ..be fruitful and multiply doctrine) and wanting to stay home while the man* goes out and is a warrior for his family. ( bringing home the spoils of war). That she has taken this idea and did a modern double back flip into the patriarchal pool,(including using science to have her babies, and it’s her father who goes out and does the manly work instead of the husband)
    That now she is being castigated for doing the modern version of the “be fruitful and multiply”. And it is a misogynistic issue, because women as people get to have full body agency over their wombs. Any woman who doesn’t support that, whether the mothers are christianist cultists in a quiverful movement, or modern baby factories as Ms. Suleman seems to be, needs to seriously think about she is really a pro-choice woman or not. I won’t make that decision for them, but I will say that in the pro-choice movement, just like in the feminist movement, there is no room for, “I am pro-choice but..” people.
    As they say over in Shakesville, you are either all in, or you are not.

  10. Anna Belle says:

    Actually, Zee, she only had six eggs implanted, there are two sets of twins among the 8. She also has another set of twins.

    What most people don’t know because they’re just too busy reacting to their fantasies about “the children” is that this woman had 6 eggs implanted each time, only one resulted in multiple births–her 2 year old twins. The six she had implanted this time were the last six she had, her last planned pregnancy. Going by her other experiences, she had no reason to believe it would result in 8 viable fetuses. Once it did, she didn’t feel morally uncomfortable with selective ablation, and I don’t blame her. It’s not a choice I could make either.

    Now, you may argue that the doctors were unethical, that she was mentally ill (I think that’s bullshit myself), but to argue that she is to blame because she had six similar medical experiences but should have somehow known better is to be an agent of patriarchy and blame the victim. People who argue this have lost awareness of the water that is the patriarchy to us fish (to use Violet’s analogy).

    I can’t blame them, though. I’ve written before about our training on the nature of parenthood, how it is very deep, and the reactionary experience is natural precisely because it is so ingrained so early on. We are steeped from the time we are born in unrealistic ideas about what it means to become impregnated, then to become a parent, and how one should go about doing so. Our mothers must be perfect, and must have perfectly adhered to the rules about getting pregnant, giving birth, and selflessly sacrificing ourselves to the subsequently produced lives. Otherwise, our children are bastards, or worse, poor. If they don’t provide us with an ideal childhood, we must seek therapy to correct that injustice.

    We must be very, very careful when we blame mothers, especially when it is a reactionary response.

    FTR, I care about the kids too, but I have no reason to believe they will suffer. Statistics are not reality, and a lot of people are creating whole fantasies out of them. Babies needing pre-natal care are born all the time, people with disabilities live and thrive in our world, and there are legions of poor kids from big families out there, and they somehow manage to make it or not. When they don’t, it’s a tragedy, but that’s not the fault of this woman. We can’t lay every lost child at her feet, especially when she hasn’t even lost one and actually has a record of protecting and providing for the children she already has.

    I beg you to reconsider your notions of appropriate motherhood.

  11. Anna Belle says:

    I did this so I could counter emotional opinions stated with cold logical facts. Funny how no one likes to hear the facts.

    I like to hear the facts, ftr. I also try to counter emotional opinions by fleshing out the issue fully and coming to a point of reason. That’s why I posted this. I knew how I felt right away because I have written volumes about our expectations of mothers, and have given the subject a great deal of thought. (I once actually wanted to be a lawyer so could pursue the feminist agenda in the courts, but ironically, motherhood led me to different ways to have an impact.) I figured the reasoned POV would be foreign to a lot of people, so I was just trying to help set the frame up correctly.

    I won’t make that decision for them, but I will say that in the pro-choice movement, just like in the feminist movement, there is no room for, “I am pro-choice but..” people.
    As they say over in Shakesville, you are either all in, or you are not.

    Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for commenting here!

  12. Kitty Glendower says:

    I think this whole show has been misogynist, classist, and racist. Look at the people involved, women, women who happened to be women of color, as in one of the doctors, men of color, a poor woman, a poor family, etc, etc, everything that is unconventional. Any other time, white middle class mom who decided not to abort the extra embryos that happened to develop into fetuses and the Pamper trucks and the Enfamil trucks will be rolling in. Good Morning America will be calling with a large five-bedroom house. The treatment of this case has been one object lesson of “HOW DARE YOU POOR AND COLOR PEOPLE try to take on technology like us white men (and by proxy white women) have done. How dare poor and color people put themselves in the role of GOD! It is insufferable, ghastly, off with their heads! Yet, no, no, no, think of the babies, think of the abuse, think of the taxpayers, etc, etc. Funny, how what is good for the goose (white middle class America) is not good for the gander (the people who are often flicked off as if they are the undeserving mud on the middle classes’ feet).

    What I find telling is how so many perfectly reasonable (normally) white people lose all sense of rationale when the players are different looking than they are.

    Oh, and the little bit about her wanting to make money from her body. Oh the shame. But how many so-called feminists will line up in support for a woman to strip, sell herself to porn, get implants, implants that she is willing to sell her eggs for. They are all for it when a man is being pleased. When her “choices” gets a man off, you go girl!. But don’t let a woman make a decision that a man cannot benefit any. No. No. NO. Well as I said in my small post about it, six of the eight are boys, so there should be some consolations for all the “outraged.”

  13. Zee says:

    “we didn’t expect all eight embryos to take, what should she have done? Killed them?”(Paraphrase mine)


    Of course they didn’t expect all of them to take…I never said otherwise. I was talking about the doctor end of things, and how many embryos they usually implant.

    If six were implanted each time I can see the mother didn’t expect more than one or two. I’m not questioning the mother…as I said. If she was still “lonely” after 6 children, we’re not talking about someone making great choices….or even capable of making mediocre least possibly harmful ones. You can’t lay blame on people with impaired judgement.

    I was questioning the doctor.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m against the entire industry. I’m not piling on*only* the poor, single, emotionally disturbed woman…the entire industry disgusts me.

    unmarrieddaughter, one of my friends became a mother due to a surrogate within the family, which was a great, individual, and careful, responsible choice for them. I don’t want to know your particulars, but sperm and egg donors don’t automatically impress me as any better than the doctors in this baby-factory business.

    I’m not into the baby mania or the societal acceptance of test tube frozen embryo baby factories. You know, everyone questions themselves, whether they have no kid, one kid, or more than one kid. There’s no “right or wrong” answer for anyone…but I definitely think the world would be a lot better if those who want kids but have biological or financial barriers would just freaking go mentor some of those already living, breathing, hurting kids who crave adult guidance and love. Heaven knows there are enough needy kids to go round.

    And anyone who argues that an emotionally stunted woman who can’t even support herself is entitled to risk the possibility (which became reality) that she would whelp 1 pound special needs premies in litter amounts on top of the 6 children she already had — well, they need to take into account that we see their point and raise them many more.

    In other words, you did make your point…but only to those who weren’t already disgusted by the wealthy who spawned this sad industry to begin with.

  14. Alison says:

    Unmarried Woman,

    We must hang out in very different social circles – this narrative that you created seems more out of that awful show Desperate Housewives than reality. Was that the point?

    I know a lot of IVF women and they don’t fit your description in the slightest! I didn’t know that some people view IVF as fertility treatment for the lazy, rich and ignorant.

    Anyways…. “octamom” has not been on my mind much but I do know that when I’ve seen clips of John and Kate Plus Eight I feel a lot of sadness, especially knowing that I don’t know how they would do what they do without a big tv contract.

    I also felt sadness for the octamom, since she already had six kids (including one with autism) and now eight newborns the same age. It’s going to be quite the challenge to give these children the nurturing that they need.

    I feel sadness that the patriarchy (with their obsessive marketing of motherhood) has made many women feel that they are only worth something when they are either hot or have children. Now, of course, we are supposed to be both.

    And I feel sadness for a friend of mine who has had nine unsuccessful IVF treatments. She’s not exactly a picture of health, these days.

    So for me? Just a lot of sadness in this story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s